I received a spam email this morning with the subject “Summary of junk emails blocked – 1 Junk Emails Blocked”. It was ironically intended to look like a report from some kind of spam filter saying that an email was blocked. There were a number of links on the page for how to manage lists or configure your settings for this non-existent application. I knew it was spam because (a) it didn’t mention what spam application or web site it was using (I’d expect that in big letters across the top), (b) I have never signed up for any such service, (c) my company used to have a similar service but stopped it a few years ago (and this wasn’t it), and (d) the email was sent to an old email address of mine that I no longer use but still works.
But the real giveaway that this was fake was that all of the links in the email go to the address 192.168.0.22:10080. Any address beginning with 192.168 is what’s known as a private address, which means that it’s a special address that’s only accessible from another machine on the same network. By “network” I don’t mean the Internet, I mean, basically, the collection of computers connected to your local router. My machine currently has the IP address 192.168.0.108. Posting your IP address on the internet for all to see might be considered a security risk, but there is no security problem with posting private addresses because unless you are connected to my network, you can’t get there. Not because I’m clever and have set up fancy rules or anything, just because that’s the way TCP/IP addressing works.
So if I were to click on a link in this spam email, first of all you’d have my permission to come to my house and smack me upside the head. Secondly, nothing bad would happen in this case, because for it to work, there would have to be a machine inside my network with that address, with an HTTP server listening on non-standard port 10080. The odds of there being a machine on my network that just happens to have that IP address and just happens to have an HTTP server listening on that port and just happens to have evil software running on it are beyond remote. The only other possibility is that some hacker has already penetrated my network, set up a machine with that IP address and an HTTP server complete with malware, and then sent me a spam email to get me to visit that machine. This is unlikely as well – you’ve already broken in, why bother with the spam? This is like breaking into a bank in the middle of the night, then calling a bank employee from the inside, and while pretending to be the bank manager, asking him to unlock the front door. You don’t need the front door unlocked, you’re already inside.
The most likely scenario is that the people who created the spam email are idiots. They set up a server on the internet that they wanted you to connect to (that had malware or whatever on it). Since they set up the server in the first place, it’s likely on their local network and the way they connect to it is through the 192.168 address. That’s not the way the rest of the world would get to it, but they didn’t know that. The result is that they have sent out this spam email (and likely paid to do it) and will never get any hits, even from people who do foolishly click on the links.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.
This is an actual conversation that took place at my house tonight. Note for the record that Nicky is 9 and has been playing the guitar for about a year and a half.
Me: Nicky, can you practice your guitar please?
Nicky: I can’t find my song sheet. It’s not in my book.
We searched his room and the office for a while, no luck.
Nicky: Can we look on the internet for the music and print another one?
Me: What’s the name of the song?
Nicky: Master of Puppets.
For all of you would-be handymen out there, here’s a checklist for the best way to get broken pieces of anything glued back together using Krazy Glue. This is my tried-and-true method, the way I do it every time. I hope this helps you.
I took Ryan to the dentist yesterday. While he was in getting his work done, I was sitting in the waiting room pondering the meaning of life with the help of the internet, by which I mean I was reading twitter on my phone. A little boy, maybe 3, came out of the back and sat on the couch next to me. His brother and sister (around 8 and 5) sat in chairs next to the couch while their mother was paying and making future appointments. The kid that sat next to me was very friendly and we had a fun little conversation over the next few minutes:
Kid: Do you have a brother?
Kid: You don’t have a brother?
Me: No, but I have a sister.
Kid: You have a sister?
Me: Yes. Do you have a brother?
Kid: Ya, he’s over there (points to his brother, who waves).
Me: Is that your sister?
Kid: Ya, that’s my sister (points to her). Just like you have a sister.
Me: Except you have a big sister. I have a little sister.
Sister: What’s your sister’s name?
Me: Her name is Trudy.
Kid: Trudy? That’s a good name. Are you waiting for your sister?
Me: No, she’s not here. She lives in Toronto.
Kid’s mom: Shhhh! Don’t bother the man! He’s trying to read!
Me: Oh no, that’s fine.
Kid: (Picks up a sports magazine) Do you play basketball?
Me: No, I don’t.
Kid: Do you play hockey? You probably play hockey.
Me: No, but I like to watch hockey!
Kid: Do you play basketball?
Me: Uh, no. I play baseball.
Kid: I play hockey!
Me: Do you? It’s lots of fun, isn’t it?
Kid: (pauses, looks over pictures in magazine) Do you have a kuck?
Me: Pardon me?
Kid: Do you have a kuck?
Me: Do I have…
Sister: He wants to know if you have a truck.
Me: A truck? No. I have a little car. It’s out there but it’s behind other cars so you can’t see it. (I notice at this point that there’s an ad for a truck on the page he’s looking at.)
Kid: Do you want to buy a truck?
Me: I don’t know. I like trucks.
Mom: (Finished paying, gathering up the kids) I’m so sorry.
Me: Oh, no problem at all! He’s quite friendly, isn’t he?
Mom: (Shaking head) Oh my God, is he ever.
Nicky was given a toy last week – a 3D puzzle of a Ferrari racing car. The puzzle was made in China, and the people who created the packaging were obviously not English-speakers. Perhaps they had access to Google Translate and decided that translating the Chinese text a word at a time was the best way to go. We had a pretty good time reading the instructions:
Use hand and head — Training kid’s flexible for their proportion on the hands and eyes. Develop them imagination ability. Make a teaching fairyland.
Design munificent — It can be assemblaged detached over and over, and looks like veritable. It needn’t any assist tools.
Perfect in workmanship — Materials are daintiness. Safety and slightly. Full of colour printing.
It could certainly be said that it’s not fair to make fun of these people because their English, as bad as it is, is better than my Chinese. This is absolutely true – I don’t know a word of Mandarin, Cantonese, or any other Chinese language. But I’m not writing Chinese text for a product that will be sold in China. If that was my job, I might try talking to someone who actually speaks Chinese. If I were to write it myself, I’m sure it would be pretty damned funny to Chinese speakers.
At work, we have a fancy coffee machine in the kitchen which is similar to the Tassimo thing that’s all the rage these days. (A friend of mine who didn’t drink coffee bought one for his wife, and now he drinks at least a cup a day. You can judge for yourself whether that’s a good thing or not.) The one at work takes little pouches (called “pods”) of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, pushes hot water through them at high pressure, and gives you a steaming mug within about 30 seconds. I don’t drink coffee but I like the tea and hot chocolate it makes, and the fact that it’s ready so quickly is very convenient.
When it’s done making your beverage, it automatically drops the used pod out the bottom into a big bin that gets emptied regularly. Now and again a used pod will get stuck, but the people who supply us with the coffee pouches have posted a helpful (hand-written) list of instructions on how to clear it:
The order is VERY specific!!
Turn off, unplug. Open big door, then put your hand under silver packet door, pull off, set aside. Look inside. If you see a pod give 1/4 turn, GENTLY slide out the back (DON’T FORCE).
Plug in, turn on, close big door IN THAT ORDER.
Next, put silver packet door on by putting top into place, smack bottom with your hand. PACKET DOOR MUST BE PUT ON LAST OR ELSE IT WILL NOT RESET! Good luck.
Good luck indeed. Sorry, but if your product needs this level of detailed instructions (complete with UPPERCASE COMMANDS) to fix a basic problem, you need to revisit your design. Luckily this has never happened to me but if it did, Tim Horton’s is only a 3 minute drive away.